On Sunday morning I was up bright and early to go to the TEDx Manchester event. There were 16 speakers lined up throughout the day who covered a variety of topics ranging from the importance of creative writing for children to how to make a fortune with stocks and shares.
For those of you not familiar with TED – it is a not for profit organisation which is “devoted to ideas worth spreading” and stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It was set up 30 years ago and the principle behind TED is to invite experts and professionals from a variety of fields to talk to an audience for 18 minutes or less on their chosen subject. There are some fab TED talks available to watch on the website, and there is also a podcast as well.
TED has evolved over the years and now all over the world there are TEDx groups and events, with the ‘x’ standing for “independently organised”.
During the morning session which I attended, my favourite speaker was Hannah Mosley; a Manchester tattooist who told us about how an interview she gave to a tabloid journalist was intentionally misconstrued to fit the journalist’s own agenda. The main message behind Hannah’s talk was that we need to remember to have a critical (and cynical) eye and ear when consuming media; why is the person in the story being portrayed in a certain way? How is the journalist trying to make me feel? What are they attempting to make me think?
While the idea that the media greatly influences what and how we think isn’t a new concept, Hannah’s account of her own experience gave it a fresh feel and reinforced the importance of keeping an open mind and questioning how information is presented to us.
As someone who is trained in journalism and has worked in PR for six years, I like to think I have just the right level of scepticism when it comes to consuming information from the media, but on a regular basis I find myself saying in conversation: “Well I read an article on X, Y and Z and it said such and such, so this means blah blah blah (and also that I’m a five minute expert on a topic I actually know zero about)”. So it was a welcome reminder from Hannah, and an enjoyable 18 minute talk.